Dancing and Darkness
Victory (well, mostly). I presented our finding before Lord Helgrund, and he agreed that the troublesome Dutone should be banished from court. Unfortunately, he did not come to a decision regarding our ambassador’s request. But I will leave further negotiations on that front to Senor Aldono.
Following the audience, it was time to attend the evening’s ball. I assumed we would be in for another night of aristocratic excess and puffery. I saw the contingent of Montagne courtiers, led by on Pierre Creux. Aware that they had lost a compatriot earlier that evening, I wished to express my condolences and attempt again to clarify whom the killer of Marcus was. Monsieur Creux, it turns out, is as poor an example of the nobility as any, preferring personal attacks and inflated egos to truth and decency. I left the encounter smaller in the eyes of society, but with my head high knowing I had done right. In his taunting, Creux mentioned that Peirre would be giving me his regards before long, which confirmed a warning I had received from Alexis that the Montaignes were looking to do me ill this evening.
I knew that I had had my limit of the upper crust, when the most talked about subject was gossip of the boorish behavior of one of the ladies in attendance, the name and face of which I was unaware. I truly wondered what this woman could have done that would have made her stand out from this collection of myopic narcissists.
I was about to make my farewells, when I spotted yet another man in a black hood – he was attempting to move stealthily through the crowd towards me, with obvious ill-intent. Crying out to alert the others, I drew Final Journey and pressed a rapid attack against the fiend, wounding him twice before he could even return a blow. I believe he anticipated easier prey, for he resorted to outlandish tactics of swinging from the chandelier in order to gain some advantage. Alexis moved to fight as well, and soon the cad was in retreat perching on a statue to make one final attempt at injuring me. He flung an ornate dagger at me, and I surely would have been injured but for the reflexes of Steppenwolf, who plucked the weapon from the air before it could find its mark.
With Alexis climbing the statue, I cooly drew my pistol, took careful aim and returned fire. Without the hope of Drackeneissen intervention, my ball flew true and struck the assailant between the eyes, dropping him immediately. The deafening roar of the pistol in the enclosed space, was followed by the stunned silence of the attending throng, only to be broken by the inebriated vocalization of our own Vivian, calling my rather direct resolution “bad form.” Again, I am left to remember the gap between me and my companions. Life is a play for them. They have the luxury of allowing their actions be dictated by good form and rules to perpetuate their unsustainable lifestyle. Clearly a common man acting in a direct and definitive manner is seen as bad form – I represent what will happen to them all when the majority of society learns that they don’t need to perpetuate the rules of elite.
However, I had little time to reflect on this during the event as no sooner had the assailant fallen that four more appeared on the window ledges. Using some arcane device, they doused the lights in the room and moved against me in force. Already injured from my encounter with Pierre, I was unable to sustain myself against their superior numbers. Taking advantage of the darkness, I slipped into the crowd and moved to a hidden position along the walls. Steppenwolf grabbed their attention and absorbed many blows showing little sign of concern, but was unable to dispatch them. However, Vivian managed to stumble her way over and make quick work of the lot of them. I will admit that even in her diminished state of mental and physical skill, she is a fierce and capable combatant. When your world is nothing but fashion and fighting, you can develop extraordinary expertise.